Bulova watches are named after Joseph Bulova, a young immigrant from Bohemia, who set up a jewelry shop in New York City in 1875. By 1911, Bulova was manufacturing pocket watches that were in growing demand. In 1912, Bulova established a plant in Bienne, Switzerland, for the production of watch components and assembly. And in 1919, Bulova introduced the first full line of jeweled wristwatches for men. It was to be followed by many other landmark firsts.
In 1920, the Bulova Watch Company moved into 580 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The company built the Bulova Observatory atop the building, to provide the most accurate readings of electrically recorded time to assist its watch manufacturing process. Standardization of watch parts in 1923 ensured that all Bulova watch components became interchangeable, a major advantage for the company.
Diamond, Commemorative Watches
In 1924, Bulova unveiled its first full line of diamond-accented and other ladies’ watches. Three years later, Bulova shipped 5,000 Lone Eagle watches to Paris, to commemorate Charles Lindbergh’s solo transatlantic New York to Paris flight. These commemorative watches sold out.
World War II
Bulova played a key role in World War II, manufacturing military watches and other precision timepieces to assist in the war effort. In 1945, the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking gave disabled veterans opportunities to learn watchmaking skills at the company’s facility with state-of-the-art accessibility, and ensured availability of jobs thereafter.
In 1952, Bulova introduced the first fully electronic Bulova watch. Its Accutron technology was set to keep time to within two seconds per day. More new products came on stream in 1953, including Bulova’s self-winding, shockproof and wrist-alarm watches. In 1954, the Bulova 23, a 23-jewel, self-winding and waterproof watch, took the spotlight.
Bulova officially introduced Accutron, the first watch that kept time through electronics, in 1960. Two years later, Bulova unveiled the Caravelle line of jeweled watches that were priced to compete with non-jeweled watches. The Caravelle went on to become the biggest seller among jeweled watches in the United States.
More New Technology
In 1970, the first Bulova Accuquartz men’s calendar, 18-karat gold wristwatch came onto the market in the United States, followed in 1976 by the Accutron Quartz watch for men, and in 1977 by the Accutron Quartz watch for women. Bulova watches became the official watches of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1987, for both the Calgary Winter Games and the Seoul Summer Games. In the 1990s, Bulova watches led the way with an array of innovations. In 1998, the Millennia Collection showcased solar-powered watches, motion quartz watches and vibra-alarm watches with sound and vibration alarm options. World Timer and Perpetual Calendar joined the collection in 1999.
Harley-Davidson watches and Wittnauer watches came under the Bulova umbrella in 2001. In 2003, in conjunction with the opening of its European headquarters in Fribourg, Switzerland, Bulova launched its European Collection of watches. New Wittnauer watches appeared in 2006. In 2009, Bulova introduced a new series of Bulova Caravelle watches, including basic, diamond, crystal, sport and bracelet features, for both men and for women.